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As an absolute (pre-) beginner I'd like to know if it is possible to sing and strum along with just 3 or 4 chords. I mean, just ignore everything except a few major chords. After all, you are singing the melody, so all you really need for accompaniment is to strum all for the beat and maybe one or two chord changes. And for any song at all. Or is this just wishful thinking? Say with chords G D and E (I IV V)?

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That's how it all started.  Still works today.  If you are having fun you are doing it right.

I am hoping someone will demonstrate. I read somewhere where children are encouraged to just strum an open chord (like G). This might get a little boring, but what if you just added one or two more open (or easily fingered) chords -- and just leave out all the difficult stuff? This -- I am imagining -- would be just a step or two above tapping your feet, clapping, or slapping a drum in time with the beat. I used to do that with a bodhran singing folk songs in class, without any idea at all about drumming, and it seemed to help. (Maybe it was just the distraction of trying to keep the beat with the drum that took my mind off the singing enough that I could feel less inhibited!)

Yes, thanks, Ted, thanks a good one. Two chords, right? I'll bet you could get through a lot more songs with just those same two chords. How to do the most with the least is what I'm after. I start with the song, without accompaniment at all. That is possible for most people. So what's next? Clap your hands (or a drum) in time. That helps. Next step -- I'm hoping -- is strum along with a few very simple chords. Once I can do that I will probably be inspired to add more sophisticated techniques. But you have to start somewhere, and I have to practice for a year or more to get to the point where I can strum along while singing songs I already know, I will never do it. So my choice is either forget instrumentation altogether or find a simpler (the simplest) way to get into it. This seems to be a very unusual point of view, at least for "musicians." Knotlenny's got the right idea, but I need a lot more of this type of approach. I hope I am not completely alone here. I have no musical aspirations. I just want to be able to sing my simple folk songs (for my own amusement if for no one else!) and spruce it up a bit with some twanging strings. 

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